Hello. It is still raining and I am not getting much walking done. Never mind, I will catch up eventually, in the meantime I am hooked on painting, pictures that is, not walls.
An email came in a few days ago which asks a question, and as it is a good topic for a blog post I thought I would answer it here, with the writers permission.
My name is Sam and I am a young lad from Spain. I just felt the need to write you a "keep up the good work" email, since I have been reading your blog for a while now and find you and your lifestyle truly inspiring. Thanks for showing me that you do not need to conform to a traditional lifestyle and that going against the current is perfectly fine.
I have only recently started accepting that being very careful with spending is not a bad thing. I was so terrified of coming across as tight. Now I jokingly call myself tight. For me, it's all about trading things for experiences. I want my life to be full of experiences and not just things. Deep down, I have known for years that, for me, being rich is doing meaningful work.
I still have a long road ahead, I struggle every day with family and society's expectations. Not craving people's approval is not something they teach you at school or work. What about you, did you ever struggle with your life choices being frowned upon? Any advice on how to cope with it?
Thanks a lot for your kind words. I am chuffed that my blog is being read by all ages, and is helpful to you. I love this phrase you use, 'going against the current is perfectly fine'. That's exactly how I feel. Although there has been periods in my life where I felt I had to fit in and be one of the crowd, I am now in a better place having broken away from mainstream expectations. It is a liberating feeling knowing I can be myself, and take full responsibility for my own well being and happiness. I no longer need approval from others to make me feel good.
It is natural for younger people to want to fit in. Being an outcast when you are young is no fun at all, such is the cruel way that people bully each other. It takes a very brave young person who hasn't been around very long to stand up and say, this is me, this is who I am.
I followed the normal pattern of a young girl with no qualifications leaving school in 1964, and worked in shops, offices, and factories, in female type jobs because that was expected. Now of course things are different, there is no such thing as jobs for women, and jobs for men, or shouldn't be, as discriminating on the grounds of gender is illegal.
There is so much pressure these days on keeping up appearances. Everywhere you look there are influences to spend more money. Credit cards, overdrafts and loans to encourage you to spend more. People walking around with a £500 phone stuck to the side of their head, kids who have rich parents, cruising the streets in the flashiest car they can find, young people hooked into the celebrity culture, all of which will ultimately be their downfall as they become bored or the debts wrack up.
A young person who can stand up and say no thanks to all this, should be applauded, not picked on. Ultimately I think it is the parents responsibility to teach their children good money management, but as we know, a lot of parents don't have the skills in the first place. It's not like it was years ago when I was a child, my mum managed on very little money, and I learnt from her.
I wasn't too happy about the names I have been called in the past by the press, skinflint, tight, miserly, among others. Stingy was particularly hurtful. But now I wear my badge with pride, people can say what they like, I know I am the winner. I have no need to fit in.
You ask, 'Did you ever struggle with your life choices being frowned upon?' Yes it was a struggle sometimes, but I have never shied away from questioning myself, and my identity. I often search my feelings deep down in my heart and my mind, even now, it never stops. The way to all learning is to first look inside yourself. All through my life I have questioned my identity, if there was something I didn't understand I would look for the answers. First within myself, and also with the help of books, magazines, and now the internet. There are such a lot of resources available.
Yes, I know I harp on about this, but it can't be ignored. I felt I was struggling against a tidal wave when I started lorry driving in 1976. So much negativity came my way, I felt like giving up many times. But I stuck with it, the more people said I shouldn't be doing it because it was taking the job off a man, the more determined I became to carry on. I seem to have been blessed with an inner strength. After being bullied at school and made to feel ugly and hopeless, then struggling through my teenage years wanting to fit in with the gang, at the age of 27 I finally found something that I was passionate about, and my inner strength was there to help me.
You ask for my advice on how to cope with your struggles. Sam, life is a journey, the road you choose is up to you. There will be times when you wonder what it's about. What you should never lose sight of is that you have been blessed with a life, it is a gift, and you have a duty to yourself to make it the best you can. There will be outside influences pulling you in one direction or another. Think things through carefully and make your decision, do you turn left, or do you turn right? One is a dead end, the other is the way forward. Don't worry if you are going in the wrong direction, we all lose our way at one time or another, just turn round and take a different route.
I often talk about taking responsibility for oneself. What I never do is blame anyone else for the the position I find myself in. My life has been planned by me, I take full responsibility. I have the power to change things if they are not right. I have learnt to rise above any negativity that comes my way, sweep it to one side and ignore. Practice is what you need, Sam, things will get easier with age and experience.
I think I have covered everything, I hope it has been useful to you. Live your life Sam, in the way that you want to, not in the way that someone thinks you ought to. Best of luck.
We'll catch up soon. Enjoy your Sunday if you can, it's still raining here.